`Chaudhary sahib, who is he?... What's this thing sitting in front of us?... Doesn't he know how to wish?... Ohe! You son of a pig, who;re your? And how dare you look at us with your dirty eyes.......?'
Ì request you humbly gentlemen to restrain your tongues and stop using any abusive language. And don't expect me to wish you after what I have been made to undergo in the last twenty-four hours... I say, after all what's this?.... Why's this murderous torture being given to me?', I, who had suffered the humiliation and torture with restraint, asked in a tantrum charged with wounded emotions.
It was 10 P.M. on the day of my arrest. I was blindfolded and shifted to the interrogation centre. Being used to discipline, I felt terribly ashamed to see a guard on me on my arrest. I never dreamt that I'd be under a guard, but I was. I had forcibly pressed the outburst of tearing emotions.
In the interrogation centre, I was led to a room which, after a while, I knew to be a cell : eight by eight feet in size with only one sealed ventilator and a thick door, lined with rubber padding around its outer edges; to make it sound-proof. It had a circular peep-hole, four and a half feet above the floor. Then a person in civilian clothes came and removed the blindfold for a little while. The man had removed my badges of rank, despite my strong protest and had handcuffed me at the back. The blindfold was replaced and I was left to brood alone.
The slanting rays of the fiercely burning sun, while moving away from its axis in August, are like burning sticks in Central and in the northern part of India, at this time Delhi is generally at the pitch of a humid heat. It was during this time I was thrown into that enclosed cell, which was devoid of any passage for air. Hence, within minutes inthe cell, I felt as if I was put into a burning pot and would surely die of suffocation. I felt thirsty; but no water was given to me. I shouted and asked for water, but none came to give me any. I found myself wasting my energy to no avail, and in exasperation I sat down. No sooner did I do that, I felt a strong tug at my shoulder and was instantly lifted up on my feet. I was repeated whenever I tried to sit.
I was forced to stand throughout the night and day, till confronted with two civilians, the next night. During this period I had sweated profusely due to heat of the cell. No water was given to me, except half a glass of salty water. I had gulped that with the avidity of a dog; only to feel more thirsty. Though I was offered breakfast and lunch, I could not take anything under those humiliating circumstances. My whole body pained miserably due to sleeplessness and exhaustion; my whole energy consumed by excessive fatigue, had resulted in my fainting thrice. I was not allowed to remove my shoes and, as a result of standing for nearly twenty-four hours, the flesh of my feet had started showing over the shoes, due to swelling. I was fuming in anger over the indignities I was subjected to.
For some time, both gentlemen who had posed themselves as police officers from the Int Bureau found themselves at a loss for words. One of them, who later gave his name as Kanwar Shamsher Singh (KSS), got up, approached me and, asked me to get up and slapped me continuously across my face with force and said, `look you son of a pig, it is high time you started behaving, otherwise we know how to make people like you behave.'
Ì think you're very brave?... Is it? Hitting a helpless person who can't even react : You sons of bravadoes, just open my handcuffs and I'll send both of you to where you murderers should go to,' I was mad with anger. Saying that, I hurled the table with the force of my shoulder on to them. But they evaded the fall of the table with the dexterity of a monkey.
`Chotte Sahib! Chotte Sahib!!' KSS shouted at the top of his voice, and when the person called entered the room, he added, `Take this bastard to the hot room and squeeze out the last drop of blood before you bring him to us next time.'
I was blindfolded and this time led to a different cell called the `hot-room', which was similar in shape and size to the other one, except that it had a thosand watts bulb with red glass covering. That produced extra heat.
In the cell, I thought, `How dare these pernicious fellows manhandle me? Is that called a fucking' interrogation?... Alright let this be over. I'll teach them a lesson.' But how mistaken I was, unaware of the future atrocities which were hovering over me.
I was again made to stand in the same position, but with the addition of beating. Beating in the forms of kicks and slaps. Food was forced through my mouth. I was given water to drink. By the time I was led to the same pair the next night, I was drained out properly as per the directions, though I still tried to recoup the last bit of my energy.
Àre you alright?.... Oh lover of your mother?' KSS enquired wickedly.
`Please I request you again not to abuse....'
`Shut up, you son of a bitch,' retorted KSS and hurled the filthiest abuses at me.
I found myself in a most bewildering position. The only thing which I could do was to abuse the unknown person responsible for my introduction to these scavengers called interrogators. And that I did.
Ì think you're okay now. Aren't you?' Asked KSS.
`Say sirs, you bastard, not gentlemen.' Restorted KSS.
Àlright, sirs. I will call you s-a-a-r-s, if that makes you happy. And sirs, I'm okay so far, you murderous sirs. For the last two nights and two days I've not been allowed to sit down, let alone sleep..... Now, would you killers let me, know before I die, as to what have I done to deserve this treatment,' I said in a fit of anger.
`Chaudhary sahib look at this Dracula! He's asking us!' said KSS and then looking at me continued, òhe! You son of a bitch, you tell us why have you come here?'
Ì think in spite of my humble requests to spare my parents, you're deliberately abusing and giving me the impression that you've no regards for your own mother who brought you to this world and your father who is responsible for your birth.... And listen, I know nothing as to what for I've been brought here. It's not me who's come, but I've been brought; I thought for some sort of clarification in a proper way. And not definitely for getting mauled, the way I'm being. Do you, sirs, understand that?', I concluded with a mouth twitching, due to anger.
Hearing me say that, KSS got up, took out his chappal and started beating me mercilessly with that, saying, Ì thought you'd come on the track.'
Àlright. Beat me as much you like, even to death, you bastard. That is what you intend doing to me.' I shouted at the top of my voice, mustering all my depleted strength.
At that, the second interrogator, referred to as Chaudhury, intervened. `Please KSS sahib leave him,' he said while pulling KSS back to the chair.
Chaudhary then turned to me and implored, `Bloody man why do you want to get killed? KSS is a man without mercy. If you keep on behaving like this, he'll kill you.' and then he asked me to sit down on a chair.
`KSS Sahib don't be harsh. After all he is a man,' said Chaudhary and shouted fir Chotte Sahib, on who's arrival he asked them to remove one handcuff.
I felt terrible cramps in my arms. I moved my paining arms up and down for free circulation of blood. I felt great relief from the exhaustion caused due to continuous standing for forty-eight hours and enduring the intermittent beating.
`Look Rathaur, you know why you've been brought here.... You must have done something to warrant your arrest, for which you're here. Isn't that so? Otherwise, why has anybody else not been sent here?' Chaudhary asked sympathetically.
`Yes, sir. I know this much that I've been sent here for interrogation. But why and what interrogation, I don't know; unless you ask me how can I tell you the thing which you want.....'
`Bastard, it is you who is going to tell,' interrupted KSS
`Well, I thought you were interrogating me! So unless you don't ask me questions, how can I clarify my position....'
`There's no question of clarifying : Your position is already clear to us. So you'd better start speaking.'
`That means you've already proved my case without even asking a single question! A case about which I don't even have the slightest idea. Eh?', I replied contemptuously.
`Don't try to show us your knowledge. We're fully aware about you. It's you who will speak, and not we. Is that clear to you?.... Now tell us', retorted KSS.
Ìn that case, I have nothing to tell you.'
`Please KSS sahib! Why are you annoying him?' Han.. so we were talking about the causes which led to your arrest. I mean you've been arrested for spying : why?'
`Spying?... Well sir, I have no knowledge about the cause. However I can only make a guess. Since I have operated sources while in the Intelligence, so it must be connected with one of them.'
`Do you know who were your sources?'
`Yes. I do remember some of them, Ì replied. Then I explained in detail about the particulars of my sources as per my memory adding, `but I'm unable to pinpoint who could have been a double agent.' Then seeking further information I said, Ùnless you tell me about the whole matter, I'm not in a position to tell you anything.' I pleaded to show me the cause of my detention.
Ànd, apart from your sources, do you suspect anyone?' Asked Chaudhary.
`No. I don't'
Thereafter, the interrogators subjected me to a cascade of questions. Questions such as : what is a captain-who is a source and why was I operating a source - who'd given me the authority; how can a General give me the authority to break international law - what was the name of the General, so on and so forth. The questions apparently, were irrelevant and stupid, serving no purpose. However, I replied to every question while keeping my balance of mind.
KSS demanded that I speak loudly, posing as deaf and that he couldn't hear. It was not difficult for me to guess the meaning of speaking loudly. My answers were being taped. But I didn't attach any importance to the jugglery played by the interrogators, as I'd nothing but the truth to tell. The questioning about finished and I was asked to narrate my life history. Ìnclude your ancestors,' commanded KSS.
After I had given a portion of it, they stopped further interrogation. I was sent back to the cell - this time to the original cell. I made a request for allowing me to sleep and to change my clothes after a bath. I had started stinking. The request was very harshly turned down. However, I was allowed to remove my shoes, since my feet were badly swollen.
In the cell I requested one of the staff personnel called `Chotte sahib' to remove, if not both, at least one handcuff as tying hands at the back had resulted in cramps and wound injuries to the wrists due to instinctive tugs to get some relief;? He removed the blindfold but not the handcuffs.
I was made to stand. It was now the third night without any rest. I felt completely tired and drained. I started questioning God. Why was I suffering this punishment? What had I done to deserve this treatment? And I implored him to save me from those brutes.
At that time, the Chotte sahib entered the cell and asked me, `Why're you not coming out with the truth? Unless you come out with the true facts, you will be torturned continuously,' then, looking away from me, added, `Here we know how to bring out the truth.' He further informed that I was arrested with proofs in the forms of documentary evidence and photographs.
`Well, if you've so many proofs against me, then why the hell can't I be brought to trial, instead of being killed?... And I wonder, what shit you're talking!... documentary proofs and photographs. Eh? I know I've done nothing illegal and there is no question of any fucking'evidence against me,' I replied, choked with anger.
The Chotte sahib, an aged person with white scraggly hair, round but sympathetic face, having heard my outburst and seeing my plight sympathised with me. He advised me to stick to the truth whatever that was; not to worry and remember God. Then he asked for a chair and allowed me to sit down, warning me at the same time not to sleep. The Chotte Sahib allowed me to sit on the chair against orders, which were to the extent of not to allow even bending and to shout numbers, starting from ten thousand, in a reverse order, till I had counted one and to repeat the process. But Chotte Sahib game me the option to recite religious hyms, or any story, instead of counting numbers.
I felt relieved and a bit encouraged at the soft behaviour of the Chotte Sahib. I started reciting "Gayatri Mantra" the only hymn I remembered. But while reciting, I forgot that also and instead started narrating parts of "Ramayana". But I couldn't do that also and, because of the tremendous pressure of fatigue, fell asleep, only to find myself up again on my feet.
Despite my best efforts, I could not hold on to myself and slumped on to the ground; unconscious.
The Chotte Sahib took pity on my miserable condition. He opened the door of the cell, untied one handcuff and let me lie as I lay unconscious, while feeling the pulse for any sign of life in me. And of course there I was still alive.
I remained in that position for about two hours, till the Chotte Sahib woke me up and game me a glass of water, then asked me to stand up. He explained. Ì'm sorry to wake you up but I can't help that. My duty is about to be over.'
Ì'm grateful to you for the compassion shown to me,' I expressed my gratitude and added, `but sahib I'm feeling very weak.... If you cam, then kindly give me some tea..... so that I'm able to face the ordeal for some more time.
Chotte Sahib obliged.
After tea, I felt a bit better but not for long; I found myself hallucinating. I started seeing figures of men moving in and out of the cell and passing clear through the walls, with moving pictures and the pictures staring at me. Thereafter, I forget everything and found myself in a strange world. I remained in this state, except at times when I was beaten up mercilessly. I was broken - physically and mentally. Yet I continued the struggle hopelessly.
The beginning of torture is always the worst. Thereafter, it becomes a parabola of agony : a crescendo leading up to a peak and then the nerves are blunted and react progressively less. My spirit held out till the long free wheel - down to the final blackout, culminating in a wonderful period of warmth and languor, where pain turned to pleasure and where hatred and fear of the torturers turned to a masochistic infatuation.
It was the fourth day when I was allowed to creep back into the limits of this strange world, into reality, and asked to narrate once again the story of my life.
February 5, 1945. I was born to Shri Jai Singh at Rakkar a village in district Kangra of Himachal Pradesh. My father, a devout follower of Gandhi ji, had taken part in the freedom struggle and several times had exerted his influence to benefit the scheduled caste people of his area. Therefore, he was well-respected, liked and had a good reputation. My father was 44 years old when I was born and, under the guidance and influence of this main, I grew up. I passed my matric and entered the college in 1961. In the wake of the emergency, precipitated by the Chinese invasion of North India, I dropped my studies to join the army without consulting or informing my parents. I did this through sheer enthusiasm and instinctive love for this profession. After serving and fighting the war against Pakistan in the Dogra Regiment in 1965, I applied for a Commission and was selected to undergo training in the Army Cadet College, the following year.
After the Army Cadet College, I joined the Indian Military Academy and was commissioned into the Garhwal Rifles in December 1969.
Having put in four years service in my parent unit, I was posted on ERE with one of the Intelligence Companies. While serving with that Company, I had acquitted myself well and earned a number of appreciation letters from the senior army commanders, for acquiring information from across the border. After having served as an Intelligence Officer for over two years. I was posted back to my parent unit. There I was promoted to the rank of Major.
I served as Adjutant till June 1978. Since I wanted to appear for the Defence Services Staff College exam in November that year, I had requested and was allowed to relinquish the appointment. I also had to relinquish my rank for want of vacancies.
And, as described above, I was sent on temporary duty to the AHQs, where I was placed under close arrest on 24th August. I also apprised the interrogators of my prior suspicions of the real reasons Why I had been brought to Delhi, which apparently went against me. For the interrogators probably thought, how was that possible, unless what they believed about me was correct; ignoring my explanation of the facts that had led me to my conclusions.
No explanation was, however, enough to satisfy the biased minds of immature interrogators. They appeared too sure of my involvement. Otherwise, there was no reason to subject an officer to such inhuman torture.
But how was I to know what was against me, who was the person instrumental in incriminating me and the manner in which I was implicated. I was in complete dark about the situation. The only thing I knew about was my innocence. That I had tried to establish but it was not acceptable to the interrogators. They continued their questioning and asked me to explain in detail about my stay, work, my friends and other associates while I served in Samba.
|Preface | Temporary Duty | The Move Order | The Train Journey | The Reception | The Army HQ | Close Arrest | The Interrogation | Background | The Intelligence | The Security | The Devil | The Confession | The Foundation Stone | The Great Detectives | The Corroborations | An Approver | Confrontaions | Hibernations | Leading to the Trails | Fairy Tales | Into the Fire | Army Procedure | As a Winess | Meeting with Family | Habeas Corpus | Death of Democracy | The Trial | Prosecution Case | The Defence | The Press | Rebuttal | Aftermath | Mystery | Postscript | Annexure I | Home ||